Home > Billionaire Unbound ~ Chloe (The Billionaire's Obsession #8)(6)

Billionaire Unbound ~ Chloe (The Billionaire's Obsession #8)(6)
Author: J.S. Scott

Months ago, she would have leapt to proclaim James’s innocence. Now, she wasn’t sure she’d ever known him at all.

“Because she worked for him? I’m not certain.” Chloe didn’t want to believe James could be involved in Ellie’s disappearance, and he swore he didn’t know why she just hadn’t shown up for work one day.

The only thing her friend had ever mentioned to Chloe was that James could be a jerk to work for, but she’d only worked in his office a short time before she disappeared.

Honestly, James having anything to do with Ellie’s disappearance made no sense. They hardly knew each other. She couldn’t think of any scenario that would make him responsible for Ellie’s sudden disappearance.

“And you’re sure she didn’t have a man in her life?” Lara questioned, suddenly sounding like the former FBI agent that she’d been before she married Tate.

Chloe shook her head. She and Ellie had always been the geeks in school, both of them overweight and awkward from grade school and all the way through high school. They’d bonded and become incredibly close because they both felt uncomfortable, finding out they actually had much more in common with each other than they did with the popular girls. After they’d become friends, they’d had each other, and that had made all the difference to Chloe in school.

“No. No boyfriends,” Chloe finally answered glumly. “I would have known.”

“How does a woman just disappear without a clue as to why it happened?” Lara said thoughtfully. “It doesn’t make any sense. I didn’t know her well, but she doesn’t seem like the type of woman to invite trouble.”

“She wasn’t. She grew up in a good family, just like I did. Her dad passed away several years ago, and her mother remarried and moved to Montana, but they were still close. Ellie never wanted to make waves or bring attention to herself. She led a quiet life as far as I know.” Granted, Chloe hadn’t seen her best friend much after she went away to college to become a vet, but they talked to each other on the phone almost every day. There was very little of their lives that they didn’t share.

“Did she like James? Did she know about the problems you were having?” Lara asked in a quiet voice.

Chloe shrugged. “I didn’t share much about him with anybody except you and Natalie. I guess I was ashamed of how he treated me sometimes. Ellie really never got to know him well until she went to work for him, and that didn’t last long before she disappeared.”

“Break it off and keep your distance, Chloe. Please.” Lara gave Chloe a beseeching look.

Chloe nodded slowly as she swung her workout bag over her shoulder. “I will.” She knew it was time. Her friend had been gone for almost six months. Chloe would never stop looking for Ellie, and a piece of her heart would always be missing unless she found her. But she had to break things off with James. She’d played avoidance long enough. She had enough information and counseling now to be strong enough to sever all ties with him.

“Don’t let him guilt you or talk you out of it,” Lara cautioned.

Chloe knew how James could be when he decided to be contrite. He was convincing, but she wasn’t going to let him lead her back into the cycle again.

Never again, no matter how difficult things might get once I tell him.

She simply nodded at Lara. “Thank you,” she called over her shoulder as she walked toward the exit door.

“For what?” Lara asked, confused, as she followed Chloe.

“For helping me, for connecting me with Natalie, for being there for me, and for loving my brother so much.” Tate was so happy, and Chloe knew it had everything to do with Lara. The love that shimmered between them when she saw them together was so strong it was almost palpable.

“He’s not always an easy man to love, but he’s the one for me,” Lara said with a happy sigh.

Thinking about it, Chloe imagined none of her brothers were easy men to love, but she loved them anyway. They might be stubborn, proud, and demanding, but every one of their hearts was good. “Is Tate coming for breakfast again?” Chloe asked curiously.

Lara laughed. “Of course. He’s getting a breakfast he doesn’t have to cook. I don’t have time to cook for us in the morning.”

“Should we head over and see if there are any waffles left?” Chloe teased.

“He’ll save us one, and your mom is getting wise to him and stocking more waffles at breakfast now. She knows he’s coming to the resort to eat almost every morning.”

Chloe’s mother ran the Rocky Springs Resort, a plush getaway for people who wanted to escape their busy lives for a short time.

Not wanting to discuss James anymore, Chloe headed toward the dining room. “I’m starving,” she admitted, no longer quite as concerned about her weight anymore. She was curvy and that was that. Besides, she needed some comfort food.

“Lead the way,” Lara said eagerly.

Chloe wasn’t certain if Lara was eager for her breakfast or anxious to see her husband. As she led Lara toward the food, she imagined it was a little bit of both.

“I’m breaking off my engagement with James. I don’t want to marry him,” Chloe admitted to her mother, Aileen Colter, as she sat sipping coffee with her in the breakfast area before she left for the animal clinic. Tate and Lara had eaten and left quickly since Lara had work to do at school. As usual, Tate was flying his wife to the university, and then he’d bring her back home later in the day.

Aileen had taken a break from her office at the resort to join her daughter for coffee.

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